2011 VIBE Vista Awards Honors Best Responsible Alcohol Service Programs

During the 2011 VIBE Conference held March 8-10 in Las Vegas, we celebrated the winners of the VIBE Vista Awards. In a series of VIBE Spotlights, we’ll profile the winners in each category. This week, we take a look at the winning responsible alcohol service program from Dave & Buster’s, which took home the VIBE Vista Best Responsible Alcohol Service award for the Chain Restaurant and Multi-unit Operator segment, while InterContinental Hotels Group received top honors for Responsible Service n the Chain Hotel, Casino and Cruise Line Operator category; both categories were sponsored by the National Restaurant Association. Congratulations to both!

Dave & Buster’s
VIBE Vista Responsible Alcohol Service, Chain Restaurant and Multi-unit Operator

Dave & Buster’s, headquartered in Dallas, Texas, is a place where guests are encouraged to eat, drink and play. With games throughout the venues and great drinks and food at the bar, guests can get lost in the frivolity. But the management at Dave & Buster’s knows that with all this fun comes an increased imperative to serve alcohol responsibly.

The 55-unit casual dining concept enlists a comprehensive alcohol service program, requiring 100% participation from front-of-house employees and management and involving the ServSafe program, developed by the National Restaurant Association, to create a solid foundation for employees.

Dave & Buster's

Margo Manning, Senior Vice President of Training at Dave & Buster's (middle) and her team accept the VIBE Vista Award for Responsible Alcohol Service Program, Chain Restaurant and Multi-unit Operator, from Samuel Stanovich, Director SRA Regional Sales and Business Development (second in from left) and Guy Weaver, Director National Accounts (left) from the National Restaurant Association.

Continuing education programs are reinforced with Dave & Buster’s bi-weekly responsible alcohol service quizzes, which cover drink recipe knowledge, drink counts and ServeSafe facts. Employees are also equipped with “pocket size” tools that help assist with drink counts and reminders of ServSafe guidelines. This creates an environment where responsible service is integrated into the everyday culture of Dave & Buster’s.

Management, too, takes annual responsible alcohol service e-courses as a way to emphasize Dave & Buster’s best practices and top-of-the-line service, creating consistent transparency among Dave & Buster’s employees.

Margo Manning, Senior Vice President of Training at Dave & Buster’s explains that creating this culture means “simply making it part of how we operate our business. By establishing consistent reviews of responsible alcohol service facts, policies and procedures, the staff has a full understanding of these expectations.”

By instilling good habits into staff and keeping them accountable through the BARS Program, a compliance check training service, Dave & Buster’s management team proves they take the commitment of providing a safe environment to all their guests seriously.

“We have an obligation to our guests, to our communities in which we do business, to our employees and to our investors to conduct our business in a responsible manner,” Manning explains. “This is a commitment we take to heart and are extremely proud of the success we had.”

Requiring staff to embrace these programs has raised the standards at Dave & Buster’s, proving that a staff that is engaged and educated in all aspects of the business is a well-oiled team that always serves responsibly.

InterContinental Hotels Group

VIBE Vista Responsible Alcohol Service Program Award, Chain Hotel, Casino and Cruise Line Operator

At the Atlanta, Ga.-based InterContinental Hotels Group, responsible service is one of the company’s top priorities in achieving a safe yet fun environment for its staff and its guests.

In fact, employees are continually certified and recertified using the Training for Intervention Procedures (TIPS) program. Because of this, since the 1990s, more than 7,000 IHG employees have been certified.

One of the reasons IHG’s staff has consistently solid service records is because management focuses on situational training. Specifically, all staff must attend an all-day interactive course where employees engage in role-playing scenarios, preparing each employee with the knowledge and skills to complete the training with flying colors and incorporate it into real world scenarios at their respective IHG location.

InterContinental Hotels Group

Samuel Stanovich, Industry Relations Manager for the National Restaurant Association (left) awards Jean-Pierre Etcheberrigaray, Vice President, Food and Beverage, Americas for InterContinetnal Hotels Group (right) with the VIBE Vista Award for Responsible Alcohol Service, Chain Hotel, Casino and Cruise Line Operator.

However, what makes IHG a forerunner in responsible alcohol service is having on-site TIPS trainer at each IHG location; the organization currently has 65 trainers on staff. Because hospitality staff turnover can be high and every employee must be TIPS certified, having a trainer on site is an effective tool in making sure training is reinforced on a regular basis.

“Our objective is to keep our guests safe while allowing them to enjoy the beverages of their choice,” explains Jean-Pierre Etcheberrigaray, Vice President, Food and Beverage, Americas for InterContinetnal Hotels Group. 

Incentive and recognition programs also maintain a level of honesty among staff workers. Each employee that passes receives a letter of appreciation from the vice president of food and beverage for IHG, a certification of appreciation and a professional wine key. On-site trainers also are recognized through the IHG Bravo! Program, which rewards trainers with certficates based on the number of associates that were certified or recertified within the year. Additionally, outstanding trainers and servers are recognized through IHG's internal food and beverage publication Spirited, as well as through the internal Confit-dential blog.

By giving bartenders and servers practical tools and knowledge, they’re able to handle any situation, according to Etcheberrigaray, who attributes much of IHG’s success to the level of intelligence his staff has on the subject of service.

“You have to be a student of your industry and have passionate people, and that’s what makes you successfully,” he says, noting that is why IHG’s program continues to cultivate an enthusiastic staff that keeps IHG a leader in responsible service.

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